Deneuve, Catherine: Honored by Lyon Lumiere Film Fest Top Award

Legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve was honored with the Lumière Award Friday evening during an emotional ceremony with Polanski, Tarantino, Bertrand Tavernier, Lambert Wilson, Thierry Fremaux, and her daughter Chiara Mastroianni on stage.


Fremaux, who heads both the Cannes and Lyon Lumiere film festivals, was the master of ceremonies.

“Being here with all these friends, all this is actually quite shattering for me,” Deneuve said fighting back tears.

The iconic French actress dedicated the award to “all French farmers,” as a crowd of some 2,500 fans cheered.

“I love you Catherine,” said Polanski handing her the career prize. Deneuve, who is 72, starred in Polanski’s first English-language movie Repulsion (1965).

Deneuve is the first woman to receive the Lumière Award–“the film world’s Nobel Prize” by the French press.

Previous recipients include Clint Eastwood, Tarantino, Almodovar and Scorsese.

Deneuve held an intimate onstage conversation with Fremaux and Tavernier during which she talked about her body of work, Hollywood, Francois Truffaut, film critics, and the one thing she and Donald Trump have in common.

Acting career as a whole and why she worked with Lars Von Trier 

“I don’t consider myself an auteur. It’s only watching a retrospective of my films that I see my filmography as a whole. I am more in front of the camera rather than behind it. The most difficult thing is choosing a role; you have no certainty about the results. My great luck has been to shoot with some great young directors. I was only twenty when I met Jacques Demy, with whom I made the musical “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

Later in life I wrote to Lars Von Trier to tell him that I would love to work with him. That is how I ended up shooting a musical comedy with Bjork, “Dancer in the Dark.”


When I was in “Hustle” by Robert Aldrich I had been warned. He had a reputation for being cranky, very difficult with actors; but he behaved very well with me. My partner in the film, Burt Reynolds, was also very likeable, he had a great sense of humor.

I also have a good memory of “March or Die,” a big production directed by Dick Richards about the Foreign Legion, shot in Spain with Terence Hill and Gene Hackman. I also very much liked “Farewell, My Lovely” by the same director, especially because Robert Mitchum was in it. I adore Mitchum but I realized that he didn’t work. He played tennis instead of preparing difficult scenes. And I noticed that his entourage changed for every movie, which is never a good sign.

I only made two movies in Hollywood. They were not smashing successes; nobody made me interesting proposals and I started wanting to go back to France. I am not very Parisian, but I feel very French.

Critics in Cannes

“I remember coming to the Cannes Film Fest to accompany Marcello Mastroianni for Marco Ferreri’s “Blow Out” (1973). I was flabbergasted by the violence which which the film was received after the screening. I remember that a woman spat on Marco Ferreri.

Francois Truffaut and Jean Paul Belmondo on “Mississippi Mermaid”

“Truffaut produced everything himself, therefore he decided to shoot films in chronological order. He would write the dialogues made to measure, sometimes the day before shooting. Belmondo never really accepted being in a role where he was passive rather than being the romantic conqueror. It’s a shame. because he is really formidable. Truffaut thought that life was more interesting than cinema. I thought the opposite. But he was passionate; he loved to explain, to tell stories.


“I have been involved in efforts in favor of abortion and against the death penalty, but one can’t really say I am a politically engaged woman. I’ve never campaigned for politics, but for causes.”